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12. "Then said he also to him that bade him, When thou makest a dinner or a supper, call not thy friends, nor thy brethren, neither thy kinsmen, nor thy rich neighbours; lest they also bid thee again, and a recompense be made thee.
13. "But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind:
14. "And thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just."
Both this and the former remark tend to the same purport, that we humble ourselves, and exalt others; that we deny ourselves, and gratify others. And both look towards the same great end, the resurrection of the dead, and the sentence of God at the last. It is humiliating, even on earth, that it should be said, Give this man place it is gratifying, even now, when it is said, Friend, go up higher. But how far more important the scene to which Jesus directs our thoughts: when the King shall pronounce the final decree; and say to one, "Friend, how camest thou in hither, not having the wedding garment?" and to another, "Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord." For we are assured, "many that are last shall be first, and the first last."
So likewise, in the world, he is often highly esteemed, who makes a splendid entertainment, a dinner or a supper, and calls his friends, and his brethren, and his kinsmen, and his rich neighbours. But in this, he may have himself alone in view, his credit, his influence, his ostentation, or his luxury. There may have been nothing
of real bounty or real hospitality. They will also bid him again, and a recompense be made him such a recompense as this world is wont to give, and is able to give. Whereas, what a man spares from himself, and his own gratification, and bestows upon the comfort of those who are without comforts, or the relief of those by whom relief is needed,-is not lost, but lent unto the Lord and what he so lays out, shall be paid him again. Thou shalt be blessed; for the poor cannot recompense thee: but there is one who careth for the poor; and thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just.
If all were to set before their eyes that day, and the account which must then be given, how altered would be the appearance of the world! We cannot, indeed, render equal the different conditions of mankind. Do what we may, we shall have the poor always with us. But He who has in his providence ordained this, has likewise commanded that what is superfluous to one should supply the wants of others. It is a test of love towards Him, that the poor, the maimed, the halt, the blind, whom He makes His care, be not left without regard. It is a test of faith in His promises, that in our daily habits of life we look not for the present recompense of self-gratification, but for that recompense at the resurrection of the just which shall belong to those who have been "rich in good works, and laid up a good foundation against the time to come." *
21 Tim. vi. 18.
PARABLE OF THE GUESTS INVITED TO A GREAT FEAST, WHO SEND EXCUSE.
LUKE xiv. 15-24.
(Matt. xxii. 1-10.)
15. "And when one of them that sat at meat with Him heard these things, He said unto him, Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God."
THIS is a natural remark. Our Lord, as he sat at meat, had been dropping instruction from his lips, and showing how those should order their life and conversation, who look for the resurrection of the just. One of the company, struck with the glorious vision which passed before his mind, is led to observe, Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God. Blessed is he, who, instead of the entertainment which they were then enjoying, and which had given the subject of their discourse, shall be admitted to the kingdom where "they shall hunger no more, and thirst no more;" the kingdom prepared of God for the righteous.
Our Lord, in the parable which follows, seems to say, This is indeed most true. Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God. But "who has believed our report? How is it with the world? Are they ready to receive the invitation? Think how the fact stands.
16. "Then said He unto him, A certain man made a great supper, and bade many :1 17. "And sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready.”
All things are now ready. The kingdom of heaven is at hand. The Son of man is about to open that kingdom to all believers. The predicted Deliverer is born. The glad tidings are revealed. The promises are fulfilled. The prophecies are receiving their accomplishment. The expectations are realised. All things are now ready and the Messiah has sent forth his apostles, saying, "Come unto me, all ye that travail and are heavy laden, and ye shall find rest unto your souls." Now then we might suppose that all would hasten, and thankfully meet the invitation.
18. "And they all with one consent began to make excuse. The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it: I pray thee have me excused.
19. "And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused. 20. "And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come."
Such was the conduct of the people of that time. As it had been in the days of Noah, so was it also in the days of the Son of man: they bought; they sold; they were eating and drinking, marrying, and giving in marriage; the things
1 A parable to the like purpose occurs in Matt. xxii. 1-10.
of this world so occupied their hearts, that they gave no heed to the message which was sounding through their country, and which said, Repent ye, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
And judging from what has been, and from what is the case, we have reason to fear that so it will remain to the end. The great majority of those who hear the invitation-Come, for all things are now ready-will be so engrossed with things temporal, that things eternal shall have no value for them. They will not "lay hold on eternal life." They will neglect the "treasure hid in the field" for the treasure which is before their eyes. They will not quit the earthly trifles which they are catching at, for that "pearl of great price," which lies beyond the surface of this present world.
May God increase in us that faith, which is "the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen!"
21. "So that servant came, and shewed his lord these things. Then the master of the house being angry said to his servant, Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind.
22. "And the servant said, Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room.'
Jerusalem, and the chief people of the Jews, were putting from them eternal life, and rejecting the Lord of glory. But there were still many Jews dispersed among the Gentiles, and there were others in different parts of the neighbouring